Monday, August 31, 2009

Mobile Baby

The Washington household now officially has a mobile baby. Although he's been "practicing" and trying to figure out how to crawl for the last few weeks, Max really put everything together this past weekend. He had been scooting backward for awhile, seemingly frustrated by not being able to figure out how to move forward. (Zahra crawled in reverse at first, too.) Then, after all that practice, it seemed like he just put everything together.
Of course it's a little difficult to capture something that moves, but I think I got a few pictures that show how he's up on hands and knees now. Still, when he gets tired or frustrated, he just kind of moves from the crawling position and will just lean back and sit on his bottom. Then when he's ready to go again, he just starts crawling away.

Even just last week, you could sit Max on a blanket with some baby toys and he would sit there and play happily for a long time. Not any more. Now that he's figured out he can get away, he just decides to venture off and explore different parts of the room. And since Zahra is usually all over the place, he just tries to get to wherever she happens to be at the moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Tooth Fairy

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, out. The tooth fairy has been very busy in our house lately. On Friday afternoon, just before Auntie Sis left town, Zahra's loose tooth came out. Here she is, above, gently wiggling it out.
And here she is, seconds later, with a fresh new gap in the front. For some reason, her expression here reminds me of a pirate. I can almost picture her saying "Argh!" while she squints.

Then, a couple days later, the tooth right next to the first one, was also loose. This one didn't come out as easy. She wiggled it for two days. Then, finally, when she was doing a somersault on the living room floor (which she refers to as a "tuck-and-roll"), it just popped out. I took some pictures of her with the new gap while I had her helping me to marinate some chicken. She's in a stage now where she is usually happy to assist with things, so she thought marinating the chicken was great fun. She got to pour out the marinade into the casserole dish and then she especially liked using the fork to poke holes in the meat. When we were finished, her excited comment to me was, "Mom! Chicken is fun!"

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The big toothless gap. Some kids seem to be embarassed by the new look (I think Auntie Sis mentioned that I wasn't fond of it), but Zahra is happy to show off her gap. She's also quite excited about being visited by the tooth fairy. Auntie Sis gave her a book about the tooth fairy which came with a little tin to put the tooth in under the pillow. Zahra has a lot of fun putting the tooth in the special little tin and then looking for the money that the tooth fairy left in the morning. It's really special to watch her light up when she talks about being visited by something magical. Ah, the joys of observing the innocence of youth.
Happy wishes, little girl.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Aloha 'Oe (Part III)

So I promised more pictures. And here I am, with a final few. There is a good one of nana-mommy and Zahra in front of the sand castle they made, but unfortunately, the picture is oriented sideways. I can't fix the images right now so I'll have to add them another time.
This is another picture from the day we went to the beach in Waimanalo. So Willie and I were talking and looking out at the ocean, just relaxing on our towels, and apparently, not being very attentive parents. I looked down and saw that Max had been playing in the sand and bringing his little fists to his mouth. Although it looks like he ate a bunch of sand here, I don't think he actually swallowed very much. Thank goodness for baby wipes and noticing this before it got too bad!
This picture was taken at the Pu'u O Mahuka Heiau, a state historical site. A heiau can be described as a Hawaiian temple. This one is located up on a hill, overlooking Waimea Bay, near the north shore town of Pupukea. I read that the wives of ancient chiefs gave birth here and there were also different types of sacrifices that would have been offered here. There was also a sign that reminded visitors that the stone formations are sacred to Hawaiians and asked that the stones not be disturbed or covered. (The kids were with us during this trip but we didn't get any family pictures together. Max was asleep in his carseat in the van and Zahra was running around somewhere nearby.)

Toward the end of our trip, we took a drive around the island. We took our local tour guide, Auntie Cissy, with us and it was fun to have her narrate and explain where we were as we traveled. We wanted to see some surfing on the big waves out on the north shore, but Auntie Cissy said we'd have to wait until Max was at least a year old, meaning that the best time to see the big waves that the north shore is famous for is during the winter months like December. So, instead we stopped for a break and got shave ice, which was really refreshing since it was really hot that day. I'll miss the driving and watching the pretty scenery go by.

The picture above was taken from the Pali Highway, as we returned from our trip to the north shore, back to Honolulu. (Not bad for being taken from a moving vehicle with the windows rolled up!)
When we returned from our drive, we had a small family gathering for dinner. Here is my mom and Auntie Cissy with their mom. Also, Mom and Auntie's cousin Keoki and his wife Paulyn came to visit.
(Left to Right) Paulyn, Keoki, my cousin John and his friend Tracy, and my cousin Shannon. The back of Willie's head and Uncle Hutch's knee are in the foreground. Not the best picture, but I meant for it to be candid.

On our last trip to the beach, we took my cousin Conor with us. Here he is with Zahra in the water. We went down to the beach at Kahala and went on to the private property of the hotel. No one seemed to notice or really care that we weren't hotel guests. (Was it obvious because we had brought our own beach towels and weren't using the white ones provided for hotel beachgoers?) We lounged on the beach chairs and played in the water a little. Maybe because it was our last day, but going to the beach this day wasn't as much fun as going to the one in Waimanalo.
Overall, we all had a great time in Honolulu and look forward to going back one of these days. Mahalo for listening to our stories.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Aloha 'Oe (Part II)

One of the most beautiful sites we saw while we were in Honolulu was Shangri-La. Now a tour through the Honolulu Academy of Art, Shangri-La is a beautiful home built by Doris Duke. (There is more information on the website, found at There is a virtual tour which includes pictures from inside of the home, which we were not allowed to photograph.) Built in 1937 on the coastline near Diamond Head (which is pretty close to where my aunt and uncle live), this beautiful house was inspired by Doris Duke's fascination with Islamic Art. While she was on her honeymoon around the world, she was deeply moved by the art she saw in the Muslim world. When she came to the last place on her honeymoon, she decided to stay in Hawaii and build a home. The architecture of the house itself is somewhat influenced by homes typically seen in Muslim countries. Inside, where you are not allowed to photograph, there are many pieces of artwork that Doris collected from all over the world. They are not specific to one country, so there are pieces from many places, including Turkey, Egypt, Iran, India, Syria, Pakistan, and beyond. Some pieces were already complete and she had them shipped over from wherever they originated. She also commissioned other pieces and had them specifically made for her, many from an artist in Morocco.
It was an interesting tour. After visiting Honolulu many times, I've gotten used to seeing certain things that I associate with Hawaii, but Shangri-La was so different, it was pretty trippy to see all these pieces of Islamic art in a home there. Things I would typically associate with some other part of the world, far far away from Hawaii, brought together by one woman and pieced together to make a truly unique collage. Although the ticket prices were expensive ($25 per person for a 2-hour tour), I thought it was worth it.
This picture was taken outside of the house. The "play house" is what you see in the background. The pool (where the diving board is) has salt water in it that is continually replenished with water from the sea, which is just to the left and down a huge cliff.
Here are Max and I at a beach in Waimanalo. It looks like he's waving, but I think it's really just a fluke. We have a lot more pictures from that particular day at the beach, including the sand castle that Zahra and nana-mommy built, but I am running out of time for today. Perhaps I'll be able to post them tomorrow. So bye for now...

Aloha 'Oe (Part I)

Aloha, everyone. We returned from our visit to Hawaii last week. It was a wonderful vacation. We stayed in the Kaimuki house with my Auntie Cissy (my mom's younger sister) and Uncle Hutch. My cousins, John, Shannon, and Conor were also at home. It was a good time to be in Honolulu since John is now back from college in Oregon and Shannon had not yet left for Chicago. Also, my mom (who, I think I've mentioned, Zahra refers to as "nana-mommy") was also in town. She was born in Honolulu and stayed there until she was about 30, before moving to California (which Hawaiians refer to as "the mainland"). Not only was it good to see my mom for almost two weeks in a row, just to hang out and be together, she was also quite fun to go around the island with. It was great to have her in town for this visit because, although she's been gone for quite a few years now, she still knows more direct ways of getting around Honolulu than I do... I can make my way around the city and even the island of Oahu, but my trips are definitely not direct or orderly. I kind of drive around until I find something that looks familiar and then take that route and eventually make my way back to the house. The house we stayed at used to belong to my grandparents and now belongs to my aunt and uncle. They are in the middle of a huge remodeling process -- we're talking quite a few rooms that have only the framing up. I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures to give an idea of the progress. The house looks so different than I remember! Although a lot of things had changed, it was really good to stay in the Kaimuki house and we are truly grateful to the Palmers for their hospitality. (Thank you soooo much for letting us stay with you guys.)

Well, we took over 200 pictures during the 10 days we were there, so it will be hard to pick and choose the best to share with you. I'm putting together an album, so whenever you happen to be at my house next, you can see the complete bunch, including all the many scenic pictures we took that I probably won't include here. (Also, I'll probably be putting together several postings since there are so many pictures to share.)

This is one of my favorite family shots from the whole trip. We are standing in a park next to the beach at Waikiki. This was on Monday, August 10, and Hurricane Felicia was lurking around. As is typical for Hawaii, the weather was humid and warm the whole time we were there. This particular day, as we approached the beach, little drops of water were falling from the sky. When we finally got to the beach, it started to rain. Just a light drizzle at first and then it started raining pretty heavily. We almost decided to leave, but just as we were about to, the skies cleared up and the rain stopped, so we were able to jump in the warm ocean water for awhile.
This was a pretty typical face for Max, when we'd put him in the water. He was not particularly fond of the water. My guess is that the unpredictable nature of the waves really bugged him. It didn't seem to be the water per se but rather the fact that he couldn't predict when the next small wave would come in or how big it would be, so we kept him up on the beach towels most of the time.

Here is a much happier Max. Don't know how we managed to get him to smile here, but it's probably not really an accurate representation of his response to the water.
Again, you can see the look on Max's face and see that he's not exactly having the greatest time in the water. His sister, on the other hand, had a truly wonderful time at the beach. She loved being in the water and playing in the sand.
I took this picture with my mom in front of a little waterfall that is on the grounds of the Kahala Nui retirement community where my grandmother lives. The grounds of Kahala Nui on Malia Street (in Honolulu) are adjacent to Star of the Sea School, which is the Catholic school my mom went to from kindergarten through 12th grade.
I love this picture! I think it totally captures Zahra's playful spirit and it almost makes me laugh just looking at her expression. This hibiscus bush was on the sidewalk between Kahala Nui and the school grounds.
This is my grandmother (and Max and Zahra's great-grandmother), Marie Foster. We went out to lunch at Zippy's, a restaurant near Kahala Nui. We were able to visit Grandma every day while we were in town and it was really good to see her. Grandma had met Zahra when she was visiting Stockton back in 2004 or 2005, but Zahra was a baby then and didn't remember anything. This was Grandma's first time meeting Willie and Max. She seemed to be very touched by our visit and I'm so glad that we were all able to get together.

This picture was taken in the front yard of the Kaimuki house on our 2nd anniversary (August 11th). After we took the picture, Auntie Cissy drove us down to Waikiki and we went to Wolfgang's (a steakhouse) for dinner in the Royal Hawaiian Center. Dinner was pretty good, and we went to have a few drinks afterward at a restaurant/bar inside the Sheraton Hotel, called Rum Fire. The neat thing about Rum Fire was that it was right on the beach and there were big doors that opened up, so you could hear and see the waves as they crashed against the shore, all while relaxing inside the building.

We went to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and this picture was taken there. Max fell asleep during the informational video and was apparently so tired he slept through the entire thing, including the boat ride over to the memorial site.

We also went to visit Iolani Palace, which was the official residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani (I think that name is really beautiful), who were the last in a long line of Hawaiian royalty. Kids under 5 weren't allowed inside the palace, so Willie and I took Zahra in to walk around. We missed the guided tours with a docent, so we had to take audio tours. They give each person a little wand that you hold up to your ear and press a code for whatever area of the palace you are in. They also made us wear little booties over our slippers to protect the floors. (And they were serious about protecting things! At one point, I was kneeling on some carpet to talk to Zahra in a whisper about her behavior, and one of the docents came over and told me I couldn't kneel on the carpet! I stood up very quickly since I was embarassed about being reprimanded.)
Max stayed outside with my mom while the three of us took our tour. Since it was a Friday afternoon, the Royal Hawaiian Band was playing outside Iolani Palace on the grass, and mom and Max could listen to the music. Since it was hard to keep Zahra occupied, I missed a lot of the history during the audio tour. You couldn't back up or repeat without listening to the entire recorded portion again. Although many of the rooms of the palace were empty, I tried to imagine what they were once like when they were full of people and things. It was neat to be inside rooms that you knew were once filled with famous Hawaiian royalty.
The title of this blog is Aloha 'Oe, after the song written by Queen Liliuokalani. The words and a little history behind the song can be found on the Wikipedia site, among other places, I'm sure.
Well, that's all for this post. I'll work on another one now, I think, since I have the time. But first, I'll post this.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zahra's First Haircut

So today, for the very first time in five years, Zahra got a haircut. Our friend Mary came over to the apartment. Although she works for an insurance company now, she went to cosmetology school a few years ago and used to work at a salon. Back when Zahra was a little baby and Mary was still in school, she asked if she could give Zahra her first haircut. I promised her then that she would be the first one to give our little girl a haircut. So I kept the promise and asked her to give Zahra a trim. I like having Mary do our hair becuase I've known her for so many years now and it was neat to have someone like her give Zahra the first cut, instead of taking her to some anonymous hair cut place for kids. At first, after Zahra had taken a bath and I had washed and combed her hair, she seemed like she wasn't at all interested in getting her hair cut. I thought she might put up a fight, but when it came down to it, she was fine.

She did keep asking, "Are we done yet? Can I go?" even though the whole process took less than ten minutes. We cut about three or four inches off. It looks so much longer when it's pulled down straight. When it dried and the curls bounced up, it all looked much shorter. It reminded me of about two years ago when she was 3 years old. We saved some of the locks since it was her first hair cut.
I couldn't get Zahra to stand still for an "after" picture, but you can take my word that she looks pretty.
Thanks, Mary!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Birthdays at Disneyland

Thursday, July 23, 2009. Willie's 29th birthday. Here are the boys, waiting to ride the tram from the parking lot to Downtown Disney. Max doesn't look too happy in this picture because I think we had woken him up from a nap he had been taking in the car.
It was SO hot this day! We had just gotten in Disneyland and decided to take a picture or two with Mickey and Pluto. Notice how Zahra is pulling on Pluto's ear. I wonder if he noticed. Or if kids do that all day long and he's just used to it.

I don't really know why I posted almost exactly the same picture. It's like one of those Sesame Street games where you try to figure out what's different between the two pictures. Hmm...

Zahra is trying to touch the cow in this petting zoo. The cow wasn't particularly excited. (Although, what do I really expect from a cow penned up in a tiny 10-by-1o foot square?) She seemed kind of lazy and was probably pretty hot, even in the shade.
One of the things I love about going to Disneyland is that you can almost always find something you have never done before. Since we bought annual passes on Zahra's 4th birthday (her first trip was last year, February 12, 2008), we have gone to Disneyland about once a month for a year and a half now. This was the first time we had gone inside the petting zoo.
Zahra was a little apprehensive about getting so close to the goats. Then, to add to her anxiety, this goat, that was sitting on top of a barrel, started banging its foot down. I think Zahra thought the goat was going to attack her. But nothing happened. The goat just banged a couple times and then continued to sit there really still.

At the end of the day, Willie and Zahra took a picture in front of the celebration sign. Now I'm a little jealous that I didn't take a picture there, too, when we came back on my birthday.

Sunday, July 26, 2009. My 30th birthday. We went to Disneyland again to celebrate my birthday. Danevia and TJ went with us and it was their first visits to Disneyland. (I'm again sorry we didn't take pictures to commemorate the occasion!) Here we are on Main Street and Max was so tired he just fell asleep, right there. Even though it was hot and sunny out, he just falls asleep. Usually his head falls forward and it looks like he can't breathe, but here he looks pretty comfy just leaning against his dad.

If Max were older, you might think that he was pretending to sleep, but since he's so little, you know this is the real thing. A lot of people were walking by and saying "ahh, what a cute baby" or "I wish that were me!"
I had a lot of fun my birthday weekend, and I was happy that Danevia and TJ came to celebrate with us by going to Disneyland on my actual birthday. One of the best things about the annual passes is not only getting to go ourselves, as a family of 4, but being able to meet people there who are visiting southern California and want to go to Disneyland. We got there pretty early that day (around 9:30) and stayed until after 7:00. Usually, we don't end up leaving the house until 9:30 or 10 and then leave earlier than 7:00, so we had a long day and got to go on a lot of different rides. It was fun to take friends around the park and make sure they got to do some of the essential stuff while they were there. I never get tired of going to Disneyland over and over and I'm already looking forward to our next visit.

Pool Time

A few weeks ago, we took the kids to go swimming in the pool. We went to my mother-in-law's friend Mildred's pool. (How nice of her to have us over!) It was a pretty hot day and it was nice to be able to dip in the pool to cool off. I didn't realize it until we got out, but we stayed in there for over an hour. Mostly I took turns taking the kids out in the water. Zahra would sit on the steps while I'd take Max out and Max would sit in someone's lap while I took Zahra out.

We tried to practice some of the techniques Zahra had been learning at swim lessons, but she seemed more interested in playing and having fun, rather than learning how to be a good swimmer. This day was in between the two swim sessions. She seemed to show a lot of improvement over the four weeks we spent going to lessons with her.
Max's first time in a pool! Six months old here. The water was cold at first, until your body got used to it. So at first, I think Max was pretty mad that I put him in the pool. He looked like he was going to fuss the whole time and I was going to have to take him out, but then he seemed to enjoy it. He especially liked when I would lift him up and down and dip him in and out of the water. He started giggling and having a lot of fun.

(Thanks to Rachel Hart for Jordan's old swim trunks. They fit little Max's chubby baby body perfectly. And thankfully, they make swim diapers now so you don't have to worry about the little babies messing up the pool or the ocean or wherever you go swimming!)
It was kind of fun to take the kids out at the same time, too. I think Max especially liked "riding" around with Zahra. If I had to guess, I'd say that Zahra preferred the one-on-one attention when I would take her out on her own. She also liked holding on to the edge of the pool and scooting all the way around, even where it was deep. I went with her so in case she lost her grip, I would be there to catch her. But she didn't. She was very good at holding on and moving along, little by little.
Little Man Max and his mama. Bye!